letlive: In Conversation With A Gentleman (In Real Life)
letlive. frontman Jason Aalon Butler has taken a break from flipping and power sliding his way into our hearts to take on the fashion world with his new brainchild and lifestyle brand, Gentlemen In Real Life (stylised as G.I.R.L.). We managed to make him sit still for five minutes to talk about fashion, music and performing.
First up, you have a new lifestyle label called Gentlemen In Real life (or G.I.R.L.) – what can you tell us about it?
Yeah! So I guess this past month has been weekly releases of different products and we’ve just released our final one for the launch which was a watch that we made, but yeah – we’ve got everything from a grooming devision to apparel and leather goods, soon to be vegan goods, and watches and other such things.
So how did G.I.R.L. come to exist? Did the idea strike you like a Facebook-style “equations written on windows” moment, or were you just hanging out with friends?
I mean, essentially I just figured I’d been consuming certain products for whatever reason – y’know? Some of them were necessity and some were just for aesthetic or because I just wanted to buy… because I’m an American [laughs]. Part of that was actually beginning to bother me and a big part of it was consuming things that just weren’t of quality, especially when they were a necessity, so I figured I know enough people and I think we have a large enough vision where we could create these things that are not only quality, but also aesthetically pleasing and just… good! Like overall, we just wanted to be making things that we know are not just worth a purchase, but also worth someone’s time. We want to make sure that everything we do has a detail to it that we’d want to see in ourselves. It kind of struck me when I was sitting in a bus on tour one day that, between me and some friends, we can ethically manufacture some really, really good products.
What exactly is your role in G.I.R.L.?
I guess I’m the owner, founder, CEO, director – whatever all those things are. I mean, I’m not really good with the technical terms, I just know that it was something I came up with and brought some friends on board. I design most of the products with whoever we’re working with, whether that be my partner or a craftsman. I designed, for instance, the shirt. The actual design of the T-shirt was done by me and my friend who works in fashion. And then there was the design of our belts – that was me and the craftsman. The watch was me, the watchmaker and my partner. So, y’know, I have to have a hand across everything that we create, essentially. Both aesthetically and the components of it.
Have you always been passionate about fashion, or is this a newfound interest of yours?
I’ve always been very, very interested in fashion because growing up and not having a lot, you’re always aspiring or seeing what’s out there and wondering what if… As I got older, I found out that fashion doesn’t necessarily mean or have to mean this out of range or out of touch entity that people sort of drool over. For me it was creating a culture, and that’s what fashion has done for me for years.
There are already a number of clothing labels heavily associated with the alternative music scene like One Love Apparel and Drop Dead Clothing. How would you say G.I.R.L. will set itself apart?
Well by no means are we saying that we’re better than they are or that they’re not awesome in their own ways, but I guess the mantra for us is that if it’s something that we need or that we want, we’re gonna make it, and then make it in a way that will work for everyone. That’s kind of what we’re doing. I’ve had that question a lot about other people in bands having clothing lines, and this and that, but we just want to make it a focal point, if we could, that we’re not simply just apparel. We’re trying to make sure that this brand stands across in a very quality-driven way. Things that are necessary and cool, y’know? That’s how we’ll distinguish ourselves – a lifestyle versus just an apparel.
“If I were to be the person I am onstage in any other instance of my life I’d be jailed or institutionalised.”
Can you remember your favourite ever band shirt? Either sentimentally or aesthetically?
Shoot, that’s a good question! Oddly enough, I had this old Michael Jackson shirt, I mean this is not a band but to me it was everything, but I got it from a swap-meet when I was a kid. I could only wear it ’til I was like 20 ’cause it got torn and ripped up but yeah, I have to say it was my Michael Jackson. I think it was the ‘Dangerous Tour’ shirt that I had.
So it’s been two years since letlive. released The Blackest Beautiful, but you have a new album coming out this year, right?
Yeah, we’ve got an album coming out this summer – that’s what the label says, at least. We’re hoping to release that in June, I believe. I’m excited to sort of show people what we’ve been up to and also who we’ve become as a band, obviously with the music and also our ideology as a band, and then continue on with that whole ideal of ‘Let Live’. That’s what I’m hoping for, at least.
And would you say we can expect much of a change between this upcoming album and your past releases?
Yeah [laughs]. I’d say there’s quite a big difference actually. We were pretty deliberate in making this new sound for us and approaching our sort of current scenario, not only here, but in the western world. There’s gonna be these ideas that people are going to be neglecting and these scenarios that we feel are very detrimental to us, just as people – this doesn’t even have to just be political. There’s definitely an emotional exercise that we can exhibit here in this record and that’s what we’re trying to do, get people to kind of wake the fuck up and pay attention.
How was your recent US tour with Killswitch Engage and Rise Against?
It was sick! It was a good tour. It was a follow-up to the summer one we’d just done. It was a good time and those bands, as people and bands, are just people that we’ve looked up to and respected on various levels, so it was cool. It was very cool.
Your stage presence is a large part of what we all perceive as letlive. How do you prepare for such a sporadic and physically exerting live performance?
I think my preparation is actually in not preparing. I just want to step in the scenario and step onto stage as if it was almost unexpected. I don’t man, that’s a good question. I don’t really prepare. When I get onstage and I play, it’s a sense of myself that I don’t get to exhibit that often, so when I’m there I try to take advantage of it. If I were to be the person I am onstage in any other instance of my life I’d be jailed or institutionalised [laughs], so I kind of have to take advantage of my poetic license or my artistic licence on stage and just work it out.
How long do you think your body will let you perform like that?
Dude, that’s a good question! I have no idea. I think long before my mind will, my body will stop wanting that. Because it’s such an emotional experience, and it’s pretty visceral, I think that even if my body doesn’t want it, my mind is gonna push it to be so, until my mind doesn’t think that that’s the way to perform I guess. Who knows? I don’t [laughs].
Check out the Gentlemen In Real Life range online.